BOULDER — Jackson Klutznick had one big focus during Tuesday's final round at the Class 3A boys golf state championships.
The Kent Denver senior, who was playing in the lead group and had put himself in position to win the tournament, wanted to have fun. In fact, he didn't even check the leaderboard until the 16th hole.
By that time, Klutznick was four shots in the lead, well on his way to winning the individual championship.
"I just prepared myself to play golf," Klutznick said. "In the past, I've really gotten in my own way, started thinking about other people and what they're going to shoot, kinda trying to predict it. I just decided I'm gonna play golf today.
"The kids I was playing with were awesome," he added. "I'm assumed they were the ones that are leading, so I was just kind of going in relation to them, and just tried to have fun. I figured at the end of the day, just go out and enjoy it."
Well, mission accomplished.
Klutznick, who finished fourth a season ago, broke away from a tight leaderboard to win the 3A title by three strokes at 1-under. He becomes the sixth individual champion from Kent Denver.
Aspen's Jack Hughes (2-over) was second. Peak to Peak's Davis Long, last season's champion, finished third at 3-over. Aspen's Jack Pevny and Prospect Ridge Academy's Walker Franklin tied for fourth at 4-over.
Hughes, a CU commit, and Pevny led an impressive Aspen contingent which captured the team title, the program's first. The Skiers, who entered with a one-stroke lead after the first day, had a runaway performance on the second day of the tournament to win.
They were 5-under as a team at one point on Tuesday, and wound up winning by nine strokes, finishing at 14-over. Kent Denver (+23) was second.
"These boys have been outstanding players since the time they were freshmen," said Aspen coach Mary Woulfe. "They knew this was in their blood, and they just didn't know when it was going to happen."
Dawson Holmes (+8) anchored the team-score for Aspen, and Dominic Lanese IV shot 23-over.
"We were a team of six, not a team of four," Woulfe. "We had two outstanding players that didn't make it who would've been on that leaderboard. ... They're just smart players, they make good decisions all the way around the course."
Eaton's Peter Grossenbacher entered the day with a two-stroke lead, having shot 5-under on the first day. Klutznick entered in second at 3-under, and Pevny was third at 2-under.
The leaderboard tightened up almost immediately on the second day. A double-bogey from Grossenbacher on the second hole, along with a birdie from Pevny and a par from Klutznick, tied the trio at the top.
They spent the rest of the day in various positions of the lead, with Pevny each Klutznick each grabbing the individual lead at one point. By the time the lead group reached the ninth hole, there was a five-way tie atop the top: Pevny, Klutznick, Grossenbacher, Franklin and Telluride's Carlo Pine all sat at even.
Thru 11 holes, Klutznick and Pevny were tied with Franklin (who had finished 12) at even. Klutznick then birdied his 12th hole to take a one-stroke lead. He held the lead from there on out, as Pevny, Grossenbacher and Franklin dropped strokes.
"I figured I was somewhere at the top, but there are so many great players, I didn't want to assume," Klutznick said.
Klutznick added another birdie on 16, and suddenly he led by four strokes. He made par on 17 and bogey on 18 to seal his championship.
"He rose to the occasion," Woulfe said of Klutznick. "To see him win, and the way he did it, with such grace coming down the stretch, was great."